Sunday 15 December 2013
All of you will be familiar with Clement Moore's famous Christmas poem, and no doubt most of you call it The Night Before Christmas. However, its correct title is An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas, and that is how the visitor is identified throughout. Perhaps a brief background in linguistics might clarify the situation. In English we shorten 'Nicholas' to 'Nick'. Likewise, the Dutch shorten 'Nicklaas' to 'Klaas'. Thus, 'Sinter Klaas', or St Nick, has been Anglicized as 'Santa Claus'. This is important to remember, because at this time of year a lot of cynical, rationalistic, materialistic people come out and pontificate that Santa Claus could not possibly, in the course of a single extended night, cover the whole of the world - or at least that part which celebrates Christmas.